The Middle East remains one of the most promising and misunderstood markets in the world. While plagued by poverty and economic inequality, it is still home to the highest GDP/capita rates. That means that along with a plethora of economic hurdles, the MENA’s wealth opens up unlimited potential.
While doing business the ‘Arab’ way became synonymous with notions of nepotism, cronyism, and unprofessionalism, the Middle East is undergoing times of huge social and political transitions. A more pragmatic attitude to hold is that Arab businesses come with a very particular set of codes and practices that one would be wise to bear in mind in order to get things done.
Arabs do take business personally (as they do many other matters), which means that concepts of honor, hospitality, and saving face pervade carrying out business deals. Besides the patently obvious, like not expecting to get anything done on Fridays, it’s useful to keep some of these other traditions and etiquette (or lack thereof!) in mind.
How do Arabs seal the deal?
While in Japan it’s good to know that averting your eyes rather than holding a gaze is best practice, in the Arab world it may be wise to laugh at the heavy-handed humor of your host.
You’ll hardly have your checkbook in the door if you go in for a gushing cheeky kiss to the conservative hostess. Will there be camels exchanged or promised daughters’ hands in marriage as part of the transaction?
What of the business parlance?
Will you seal the deal with a coffee or a handshake?
Read and get something of a loose idea of how it’s done Arab-style.